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Conmen and a Brawl in the Streets

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 05 August 2010

Professor Amanda Vickery presents dramatised extracts from gripping court cases and discusses with fellow historians what they reveal about 18th century society and culture.

She discusses conmen, and asks what they reveal about appearance, identity and social mobility in the growing city of London, Europe's first metropolis.

The Old Bailey was a theatre in which high and low both played starring roles. This episode's cases mix the greatest writers and artists of the time - Dr Johnson, Joshua Reynolds - with ballad singers, beggars, prostitutes and fraudulent vicars. There is comedy as well as pathos in these cases.

With historians Hannah Grieg, Peter King and Judith Hawley. Recorded on location in Joshua Reynolds' house in Soho.

Producer: Elizabeth Burke
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 4.

  • The Old Bailey online archive

    All the cases discussed in the programme can be found in the Old Bailey online archive – a fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. The website makes available a fully searchable, digitised collection of all surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings from 1674 to 1913, and of the Ordinary of Newgate's Accounts between 1676 and 1772. It allows access to over 197,000 trials and biographical details of approximately 2,500 men and women executed at Tyburn, free of charge for non-commercial use.

    The Old Bailey online archive
  • Guest: Dr Hannah Greig

    Dr Hannah Greig (University of York) whose research focuses on the eighteenth-century beau monde, London's fashionable elite society. Consequently, Hannah is an expert in material splendour, sociability and fashionable excess. She is currently completing her first book 'The Fashionables: London's Beau Monde in the Eighteenth Century'.

    Dr Hannah Greig
  • Guest: Professor Peter King

    Professor Peter King (Open University) who works primarily on crime, justice, poverty and welfare 1680-1850.

    Professor Peter King
  • Guest: Professor Judith Hawley

    Professor Judith Hawley (Royal Holloway University of London) is currently working on a group biography of the Scriblerus Club and is General Editor of an eight-volume anthology of primary texts, Literature and Science, 1660-1832 (Pickering & Chatto, 2002-3).

    Professor Judith Hawley
  • Recording details

    The programme was recorded on location at Blacks, a private members club in London’s Soho.


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